Look, I realize that the topic of effective listening has received more than it’s fair share of blog attention. But, before you decide to move on and read something else, consider learning a few things about listening from a surprising source.

If you haven’t encountered it in person, you’ve likely seen a commercial for Amazon’s personal assistant service “Alexa.” This virtual servant can do anything from play music and tell jokes, to search the internet for answers to all your questions.  Not surprisingly, Alexa can also conveniently place orders on command directly from Amazon. While Alexa may be quirky at times, ‘she’ really does exhibit model listening behaviors:

1 – Committed to listening – As long as she’s switched on, she is attentively waiting to hear what you have to say. And even if you’re not speaking directly to her, she is always intently listening in case you call her name.

What would happen if, as managers, we applied a little bit more of this attentiveness to our 1:1’s?

What if, as sales people, we were a little more attentive when our clients or prospects were speaking?

2 – Listen to understand – Alexa is not afraid to ask questions. If she’s unsure of what you’re asking or what you want, she’ll ask! Her question may be a little off, but she just wants to get it right. She is focused on understanding exactly what you need so she can deliver the right results, even if that happens to be a 48 pack of angel soft toilet paper, shipped overnight.

As project collaborators, what would happen if we assumed less and asked a little more?

When dealing with difficult customers, what would be the impact of truly trying to understanding the problem instead of rushing to a solution?

3 – Avoiding bias – Alexa listens the same no matter who is speaking. Adult or child, east coaster or west coaster, it doesn’t matter. She has no preconceived notions about who you are. She just wants to understand what it is you need.

How much quicker could we establish trust and respect if we focused on the person in front of us instead of the biases in our head?

What would happen if we checked our biases in the face of conflict?

We can all achieve greater business results if we put Alexa’s listening principles into practice.

What other technology has taught you a lesson? Please comment!

Posted by Graham Bowman

Graham Bowman has over 13 years experience selling B2C & B2B solutions and in parallel 15+ years training salespeople. He is a certified Dale Carnegie trainer and coach with extensive experience in classroom and on line delivery.

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